July 7, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Ukrainian LGBT advocates cancel march

Kiev, Ukraine, LGBT, gay news, Washington Blade

Ukrainian LGBT rights advocates take part in a flash mob in a Kiev park on July 5 after they cancelled a scheduled march. (Photo courtesy of Insight)

Ukrainian LGBT rights advocates say they cancelled a march that had been scheduled to take place in the country’s capital on July 5 because local police refused to protect them.

Olena Shevchenko, co-chair of the Kyiv 2014 Pride organizing committee, told the Washington Blade on Monday that Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko told march organizers that it was not an “appropriate time” to hold the event. Shevchenko said Klitschko told the advocates that his city did not “have enough forces to protect” them, even though she said officials deployed around 3,000 police officers to a protest outside the Ukrainian Parliament two days earlier.

Shevchenko told the Blade that threats from “ultra-right groups” and soccer hooligans ultimately prompted organizers to cancel the march.

Nearly three dozen people nevertheless took part in a flash mob at a Kiev park on July 5 where they held balloons and banners that read “human rights for all.”

“It was really important to show our society that we are here and we aren’t afraid to be open,” said Shevchenko.

Bogdan Globa, executive director of Tergo, a Ukrainian LGBT advocacy group, told the Blade the decision to cancel the march did not come as a surprise because radical groups and fascist organizations are “fairly active” in Kiev and local authorities are “engaged in other issues and are too weak.”

He said a group of mothers with his organization who had planned to participate in the event were nevertheless disappointed.

“We believe that the organizers of the march haven’t chosen time for the march very thoroughly,” Globa told the Blade. “Our society is very aggressive and radicalized at the moment.”

Ukraine’s LGBT rights record remains poor compared to other European countries.

Anti-LGBT discrimination and violence remain commonplace in the former Soviet republic.

Ukrainian parliamentarians since 2012 have considered two gay propaganda bills similar to the law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed in June 2013. They approved an anti-discrimination bill in March that did not include sexual orientation with the apparent approval of European officials in Brussels.

More than 100 LGBT rights advocates in May 2013 took part in Kiev’s first Pride march that took place without violence, even though protesters attempted to disrupt the event.

Shevchenko, who was in the U.S. in April, and other LGBT advocates with whom the Blade has recently spoken say the ongoing violence between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops in the eastern part of the country has had an adverse affect on their advocacy efforts.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • Obnoxious right-wing groups and Soccer Hooligans. That seems to be the norm in anything that has Russian influence with flaccid police forces that refuse to do their jobs! Unfortunately since their citizens refuse to recognize GLBT as people, they think it’s acceptable to attack them and murder them.

    It’s a classic example of what happens when right-wing conservatives have too much influence over a society. However, what strikes me is that these attitudes aren’t much different than the ones GLBT people have had to cope with here in decades past.

    Good for the flash mob for having the courage to stand their ground despite the dangers. They are true heroes. When are GLBT people going to start protesting at Russian and Ukrainian embassies around the world to sure our disgust with their attitudes and that we won’t be silence or forced to be invisible?

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